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Land Commission officials face corruption allegations

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Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Officials at the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) have been accused of asking for bribes in order to pay out compensation for land.

Ssenyonyi chairing Cosase which heard that ULC officials sought bribes from claimants.

Geoffrey Mugisa, one of the registered proprietors and claimants of the Shs10.6 billion supplementary budget allocated to facilitate the land owners who sold their land to the government through the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) said in order to process his payments, officials from ULC asked him for a bribe.

Mugisa on Wednesday, 08 June 2022 appeared before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) chaired by Joel Ssenyonyi.

The committee is investigating the irregular payment of Shs10.6 billion to six land owners. The landowners are Stephen Nagenda, Twaha Lwakaana, Kosia Rwabukurukuru, Namuli Natalia, Julius Busulwa and owners of the Ndeeba Church and Lusanja land.

When he was tasked by the committee to explain how he got compensated and how he got his land of 208 hectares, Mugisa said that the process was tedious and frustrating and marred with calls for bribes.

Mugisa said that the Land Commission demanded 50 per cent of the Shs1.544 billion he was supposed to get from the sale of his land.

For the land valued at Shs1.544billion, Mugisa got an advance payment of Shs50 million in 2016 and the outstanding balance of over Shs1.4 billion in 2021 for his 208 hectares of land.

“Someone called Michael Obongomin called me and said I would not get my money just like that. At first, he asked for 20 per cent and then later 50 per cent of the total amount I was supposed to receive for my land,” Mugisa said.

Mugisa said he didn’t bow to pressure but his compensation took long.

Joel Ssenyonyi tasked Mugisa to provide evidence of the phone number and details of the agent seeking the bribe, his account number where the money was paid and his phone number.

The committee also tasked Mugisa to return with a written consent from his family who gave him the land and copy of the title among others.

Mugisa also claimed that his land was occupied by squatters and not the tenants by occupancy according to the report made by ULC before acquisition of the land.

The committee put Mugisa under oath as he failed to present documentation on how he got the land title, alongside the inconsistencies in his defence statements.

He, for instance, told the committee that the land was given to him as a young boy but the committee was shocked to find out that with nine other brothers, Mugisa inherited half of the family’s 500 hectares.

Tororo North county MP, Geoffrey Ekanya questioned the credibility of acquisition of the land.

“How sure are you that no one will come to claim the land as there is no direct evidence to show the real ownership of the land,” Ekanya asked.

Ssenyonyi has given Mugisa till Friday to present the necessary documentation.

The committee is also in the hunt for former ULC secretary and accountant for her role in the irregularities at the commission.

According to Ssenyonyi, Imaryo fled the country as soon as the investigations begun.

Ssenyonyi said that Imaryo had paid some monies before verification.

“She was being guarded by the military and she left through Nairobi. The Interpol has however, been involved and she will be gotten soon,” Ssenyonyi said.

SOURCE: UGANDA PARLIAMENT MEDIA

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